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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Magdalene’


Mark 16:9-15: A Prayer for Unbelief 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

José de Ribera: The Penitent Magdalene or Vanitas

In this second week of Eastertide, as we conclude our exploration of Easter Week Gospel readings, we challenge ourselves to decide where we stand in the Easter story. How many times does Christ approach us to share the good news that our freedom is won? How often do we panic because we have forgotten the Easter miracle of restoration? How frequently do we give thanks to God for the goodness in our lives and then turn to go out to share this good news?

Now after [Jesus] rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 

We may be the mourning Mary who experiences rejection when she shares her hope-filled story with others, or we may be those who scoff at her joy.

After this [Jesus] appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

We may be the Emmaus disciples who spend a day and share a meal with the risen Christ, or we may be those who are content in their skepticism.

Later [Jesus] appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

We may be one of the eleven who huddle in the upper room, afraid to leave and afraid to stay, persisting in our unbelief. Or we may take in Christ’s rebuke, and then go out to join all of creation in praising God.

And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”

We may be one of those who persists in the bitterness of disappointment, or one who neither doubts nor believes but who chooses to stand in some in-between world of detachment.

Today, as we consider that Christ leaves not one of his sheep behind, let us choose to believe the Easter miracle and take up Christ’s gift of new-born joy rising from pain. Let us admit that we have the freedom to choose to ignore or to react to Christ’s presence in our lives. And let us put aside our unbelief to join all of creation in praise of God’s persistent love. And so we pray.

Good and gentle Jesus, you know what to say to us so that we might believe. We thank you for your hope. 

Gracious and generous God, you meet our fears with your mighty persistence. We thank you for your fidelity.

Giving and merciful Spirit, you calm our fears and soothe our anxieties. We thank you for your love.

Amen.


Today’s verses are from the NRSV translation of Mark’s Gospel. When we open other translations, we also open ourselves to Easter belief.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/ , http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/online/roadtoemmaus.htm and http://www.beliefnet.com/espanol/20-asombrosas-palabras-de-jesus-para-ti.aspx?p=9

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John 20:11-18: Overwhelmed

Antiveduto Gramatica: Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on our response to the Risen Christ’s call that we too often miss because we are overwhelmed.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

We wonder where we might find God amid the horrors of war. We see no way forward and shrink from those why ask, “Where is your God now?” And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in faith.

Woman, why are you crying?

We wonder where to look for God amid the homeless, the radically poor, and the fully marginalized. We move forward slowly in darkness, waiting for the light. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in hope.

Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?”

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus at the Empty Tomb

We wonder how to encounter God as we struggle to survive the battles of life. We grope for surety, anticipate a surge of confidence, and wonder where compassion is hiding. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in love.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

The angels of God ask Mary directly – and they ask, “Woman, why are you crying?” Can we give up our fears, give in to these angels, and rely on Christ’s presence?

Christ himself stands before Mary – and he stands before us – to ask, “Who is it you are looking for?” Can we surrender our anxieties, trust Christ himself, and believe that God turns all harm to good?

When circumstances and emotions overwhelm us . . . are we willing to let go of all that terrifies us . . . to fall into the loving presence of the risen Christ?


This selection from John’s Gospel appears frequently in liturgical readings and when we spend time with these verses, we understand why. Read more reflections on this citation on this blog, search for these posts: Overwhelmed by GraceWhere the Body Had Been, Possibilities, Turning Again.

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar to discover what she has to say to us today.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiveduto_Gramatica_-_Mary_Magdalene_at_the_Tomb_-_WGA10352.jpg and http://www.graspinggod.com/jesus-and-mary-magdalene.html

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Isaiah 52-53: Servant Work

James Tissot: Mordecai

Good Friday, March 30, 2018

The second part of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Book of Consolation, contains clear instructions for what to do when we are deeply troubled, for when we believe that we do not fully understand God’s plan, for when we feel abandoned by God. Verse 20 with its imagery of children caught in a net is particularly troublesome; but the image of our enemies drinking from the bowl of wrath that they themselves have brewed, quickly follows. This image reminds us of Haman in the story of Esther. As a successful servant of King Xerxes, Haman displays jealousy of Mordecai, a Jewish man whom Xerxes respects and values. Upset that Mordecai worships the One God, Haman fumes when Mordecai will not bow in homage to him. Haman plots a genocide of the Jews, and he erects a gallows in front of his house so that he may witness Mordecai’s execution. Later we discover that it is Haman and his family who are executed on this gallows.

So when we are fear-filled, we must remember to ask God’s grace, patience, and wisdom, to discern God’s hand in all that happens around us.  We try to follow the example that Jesus has shown us, we abide in the faith that God knows all and keeps promises, and we pray intercessory prayers for those who do us damage.

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.  Even as many were amazed at him – so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals – so shall he startle nations.

James Tissot: The Council the Morning of Good Friday

As faithful servants, we strive not for perfection but for persistence. We cannot expect to live life unscathed, rather, we strive to reach the potential God has placed in us.  The faithful servant wears the scars of existence and lives along the margins of life. This servant does not seek comfort in the physical world, nor does this one stay long in the heady turmoil of power, fame and wealth.  The true servant meets God’s mercy and grace through the pain and suffering of life.  The true servant knows that she finds serenity in God and not in the superficial satisfaction of grudges long held or of worldly battles soundly won.  This is the mystery of Christ, and it is the mystery to which we are called.  We are created to be servants to one another, servants of God.

On this Good Friday, we remember that Mary Magdalene in the cemetery garden and the apostles on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Christ in the early moments of his return . . . so transformed was he . . . so momentous was the transition from one life to the next.

This one who is God himself comes to meet us through the woe of our living.

This one who is God himself comes to meet us through the miseries of our existence.

This one who is God himself graces us with his healing touch.

This one who is God himself knows the intimate detail of our suffering.

This one who is God himself loves us so much that he will go wherever we are . . . sit with us no matter who we are . . . walk with us no matter where we go. This love knows no limit.  This love leads us to joy.

Servant work is difficult.  Servant work is frustrating.  Servant work is humbling.  Servant work is a gift.  Servant work is the only work truly worth doing.  Servant work is the work of Christ.  As servants, we want to Awake, awake and put on our glorious garments of celebration.  We want to shake off the dust, ascend to the throne with Christ where the bonds will be loosed from around our necks.  We come forth, to depart, to set our feet upon the path of our journey with God as our faithful rear guard.  We answer the call we hear . . . for it is the Servant Song, the song of the true, faithful servant.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 14, 2010.

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John 20:11-18: Turning Again

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

James Tissot: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day three, Easter Tuesday, we heard John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we chose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.

When harsh realities challenge our beliefs and foundation, we mourn our loss, question all that we thought certain, and doubt the facts before us. Do we also look for the angels who move with us through our days? Do we offer our suffering as a sign of our trust in God? Do we fall back on the familiar or move forward in hope?

[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Anger and fear, confidence and mercy. In times of deep stress, the primal parts of our brain take over and we instinctively collapse into familiar patterns of flight and denial, aggression and accusation. Might we practice the art of relying on the positive influences in our lives? When we feel panic and worry taking over, might we remind ourselves to look for Jesus who stands before us . . . even when we do not recognize him?

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

James Tissot: The Women at Jesus’ Tomb

Our pastor last week, in his morning homily, asked a question we may have been asking ourselves when we look at the detail John provides us. If Mary has already turned away from the empty tomb to look at the man she thinks is the gardener, why does she turn again? And how? When we reflect on these verses, we begin to understand that the second turning is toward a newness in perspective. Mary allows herself to see that the gardener is, in fact, Jesus. Might we follow her example to open our eyes and ears in a new way? Might we have full confidence in the promise of the Christ?

Today we spend time with John’s story of the conversion of Mary at the tomb, and all that followed in the baffling commotion of distrust touched with intense conviction and enduring love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our anxieties for the world, with the joyful turning of Mary Magdalene.

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fearful Yet Overjoyed

Monday, April 24, 2017

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day two, Easter Monday, we heard Matthew’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed . . .

Who among us has not felt this clash of emotions at cataclysmic times in our lives? We are full of joyful anticipation, and at the same time a sense of foreboding. Newness and change confront us, offering both hope and anxiety. Jesus has died, is lying in the tomb and yet his body is not there. Matthew records other details that we do well to spend time with today.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Who among us does not need these reassuring words when we find ourselves in dark days? Everyone we have trusted in the past has fallen away in this new present. Every sturdy stone we use to cross the river of the unknown has disappeared. Jesus seems to be present to us, yet is he? Why does he ask us to meet him in Galilee? Why does he not repair all that wounds us here and now? Can we continue to believe all of his promises if we are not physically with him? Matthew gives us another detail to ponder as we reflect on the future that lies ahead.

“And if this [bribe] gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys at the Tomb

Who among us has not come up against deceit among families, friends and colleagues? Trust seems a rare quality. Truth is warping into alternative realities. Honesty is now self-serving and the common good suffers. Generosity gives way to narcissism. Fidelity is fleeting. Hope is inane. Love insincere. And yet . . .

As we consider the accounting that Matthew gives us of Easter morning at the tomb, we now have another newness we had not anticipated, a newness born out of joyful apprehension, a newness rising from the ashes of old fears and doubts, a newness promised by the one who keeps all promises.

Today we spend time with Matthew’s story of the women at the tomb, and all that followed in the confusing chaos of suspicion threaded through with deep trust and abiding love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our fears for the world, with the joyful hope of these women.

For an interesting look at the identity of the women at the tomb, visit: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-many-women-visited-the-tomb-of-jesus/

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part VII

Saturday, April 8, 2017

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Christ comes to us each morning as we rise, awakening, enlivening, and calling. He tends to us as we prepare for the day.

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Christ abides with us as we move through our day, tending to our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues. He remains with us through sorrow and celebration.

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Christ visits with us each evening, cajoling, smiling, listening, and laughing. He transforms our worry and shares our joy.

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Do we make space in our lives for Christ each morning?

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Do we make time for Christ in our relationships throughout the day?

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Do we return to Christ each evening as we reflect on all we have done and all we yet hope to do?

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

Harold Copping: Mary Magdalene at the Sepulcher

Christ is with us in every space and in every moment. Let us remember to welcome him each day, to include him in an active way, and to show him our gratitude and love each evening when we withdraw at the close of each day.

. . . but somehow they did not recognize him . . .

As we journey toward Emmaus on our own Easter journey, we reflect on the encounter between Christ and Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, and we wonder if we do – or do not – recognize our risen Teacher. Use the scripture link here to compare versions of the story of Mary and Jesus on Easter morning. John 20:11-16

Tomorrow, de-creation. 

For more thoughts on why the Magdalene did not recognize Christ, visit: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/why-didnt-mary-recognize-the-resurrected-jesus/ 

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Matthew 27:55: A Prayer for Ministering Women

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Clopas, Mary mother of James

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Clopas, Mary mother of James

There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and helped him. (Matthew 27:55 GNT)

For all the women who work in the margins of society to bring goodness out of darkness, we pray.

And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. (Matthew 27:55 KJV)

For all the women who work for justice to bring change to corrupt systems, we pray.

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. (Matthew 27:55 NRSV)

For all the women who keep quiet counsel as they nurture others through bright days and long nights, we pray.

And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. (Matthew 27:55 DRA)

For all the women who step forward to lead in spite of blatant barriers and the quiet whispering campaigns, we pray.

There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers. (Matthew 27:55 MSG)

For all the women in the world who follow Christ in deep fidelity, who hold hope against outrageous odds, and who love in the face of anger and abuse, we pray.

For all the women in the world, we pray. Amen.

To compare other translations of this verse, use the scripture link and the drop down menus, and give thanks for the sacred hands of many ministering women.

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John 20:11-18: Possibilities

Andrea Solario and Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

Andrea Solario and Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Much has been imagined about Mary Magdalene. And what do we imagine were her emotions leading up to and following Jesus’ death? Do we allow ourselves to be both faithful and vulnerable to others as she was to Christ? How does her story instruct us to include more than we exclude possibilities, views and perspectives in our lives?

Much has been said about Mary Magdalene. And what do we say about fidelity, hope and love? How do we allow our everyday interactions with others to show how this woman has changed us? How do we open ourselves to God’s miracles?

Much has been written about Mary Magdalene. And what do we record in our hearts as we consider this woman who was clearly so important to Jesus? What do we hold in our hearts? What do we share with others?

To learn about this remarkable woman, enter her name in the blog search bar, or click on the image above and visit: http://www.knightstemplarorder.org/mary-magdalene/

Was the Magdalene a reformed prostitute or a faithful first apostle of Jesus? We consider why her persona might be characterized in a negative way when we visit: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=83

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st-mary-magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene

John 20:1-18: Glory XII – Healing

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Adapted from a reflection written on August 9, 2007 and posted today as a message about God’s glory, an experience offered to each of us.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

The love between Jesus and his disciples is palpable, and when Jesus speaks to the Magdalene in verse 20:16, it is clear that this man had a very human relationship with the friends who surround himself.  And it is this same relationship that is offered to us, a relationship of healing love, truth and light. This is why it is so important for us to surround ourselves who will nurture the growth of Jesus’ truth and light and life, people who speak with their ears and live with their hearts, people who touch one another in the manner that Christ touched his followers, people who heal.

We are all called to be healers to one another; and as adopted sisters and brothers of Christ we have the power to heal one another not only in a medical way but emotionally and spiritually as well.  When we listen for God’s Word to speak, when we exercise patience and persistence, when we live out our faith in God, our hope in Christ and our love in the Spirit, we meet Christ. We heal and we are healed.

And so we pray, as Mary Magdalene may have prayed . . .

Precious God, keep me mindful of this your promise, to set us prisoners free from all that binds us, to raise us to the great hope you have placed in us, to send your Spirit into our temples to abide with us forever.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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